FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
TAMPA – USF Head Baseball Coach Lelo Prado announced today the hiring of long-time Major League pitching coach Chuck Hernandez to fill the same position for the Bulls.
Hernandez, who returns to his Tampa roots with 31 seasons of professional experience, both as a player and coach, has helped develop 2008 Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, three-time American League All-Star Justin Verlander and former All-Stars Chuck Finley, Kenny Rogers and Scott Kazmir, among others, during his prolific coaching career.
“Adding Chuck Hernandez puts the icing on the cake with this staff,” said Prado. “If you’re a pitching prospect in this community, a pitching prospect anywhere in America, you want to go somewhere where a guy is going to develop you and Chuck Hernandez has been doing that his whole career.”
Previously, Hernandez worked alongside the likes of Jim Leyland, Lou Piniella and Don Zimmer, as well as current Tampa Bay Rays skipper, Joe Maddon. He has been a big-league pitching coach for the California Angels (1992-96), Tampa Bay Devil Rays (2004-05) and Detroit Tigers (2006-08) and was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Rays from 1997-2003.
Hernandez’s career was highlighted by his stint with the Tigers, where he guided the 2006 pitching staff to the lowest ERA in the American League at 3.84 en route to the league championship and a berth in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Both Rogers and Verlander collected 17 wins under Hernandez’s watch that year. The following season, Hernandez served as the pitching coach for the victorious American League in the 2007 All-Star game at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
His most recent stint in the professional ranks came as the pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2010. Hernandez’s impact was immediate as his pitchers posted a team ERA of 3.44 and helped the Phillies win the GCL North Division and the GCL Championship.
“Chuck is a super human being who fits perfectly with this staff,” added Prado. “Our players are the ones that will benefit. They are going to learn and develop with his guidance and that is the most important thing. I thought it was a distant dream when I first started talking to Chuck about coming on board, but, when we sat down and talked about it, he said that it’s something that he would love to do.”
By coming to the college ranks, Hernandez positions himself as the most experienced and accomplished pitching coach in all of college baseball and the only Division I pitching coach to have served as a pitching coach at the major league level. Prado believes that with Hernandez’s addition, the Bulls will receive a major boost, giving USF the opportunity to recruit nationally at the highest level.
“It’s going to be outstanding for recruiting,” said Prado. “We can go into any home in America and say, ‘You have a big-league pitching coach here that’s going to develop you."
Hernandez completes the Bulls staff after Prado added former USF great and former big leaguer Chris Heintz as hitting coach and Frank Maldonado, who comes to the Bulls after a highly successful stint at the University of Tampa.
“You have two guys here that have major-league experience in Chris Heintz and Chuck Hernandez,” said Prado. “Then, add Frank, who has been a winner everywhere he has been, and you create a great situation. With the construction of a brand-new stadium well underway and the completion of the staff, I’m excited and ready to get this rolling.”
What They are Saying About Chuck Hernandez…
“Coach Hernandez has had a great influence in my career. He’s an incredible teacher and mentor, and will be a tremendous addition to the program"
– Justin Verlander - 2006 American League Rookie of the Year and ace of the Detriot Tigers Pitching Staff
"Chuck is one of the finest pitching coaches in the game of baseball. I’ve been fortunate to work with him for many years. He is going to have a major and immediate impact on the Bulls program."
– Chuck LaMar – Assistant General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Player Development & Scouting
“It is a great hire for the University of South Florida. Chuck is a great man and he will do a great job with those kids. I talked to him a while back and he told me that USF is where he wanted to be. It is a great hire for the program.”
– Don Zimmer – Former NL Manger of the Year (’89) and Six-time World Series Champion